The Road Less Travelled

15 days

Indicative cost incl. flights:



3 to 4 star & low season


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Day 1
Fly overnight from the UK to Tokyo. We will always aim to have you arrive in Haneda, but some indirect flights will use the further out Narita airport instead.
Day 2
Arrive into Tokyo and spend the rest of your day relaxing or exploring. We can discuss ideas with you for your free time if you get here early, and you will have use of our Self-Guide mobile phone app throughout your travels.
Along with a knowledgeable guide, explore the streets of Yanaka - Japan's quieter old town - trying delicious local food, taking in the easier pace of life, and forgetting that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world. Your afternoon is yours to spend as you wish - we can recommend some charming neighbourhoods to explore, if you like the idea of avoiding the crowds.
Day 4
Travel out to Kawaguchiko to try to see the elusive Mt. Fuji. Rather than follow the tourists along a well-trodden route around the lake, meet a local guide to get out into the wilderness - Haha no Shirataki waterfall, Lake Saiko, and the Sea of Trees. Return to Tokyo this afternoon for one last sleep in the city.
Day 5
Travel north by bullet train to the former castle town of Kakunodate. Depending on the time of year, spend your afternoon enjoying the local area, possibly seeing some sakura cherry blossoms, or even take a guided cycling trip out to the beautifully blue Lake Tazawa.
Day 6
Enjoy a full day tour of Kakunodate with your private English-speaking guide - and, if you fancy it, have an Akita dog join you for some of the stroll! Learn more about the rich samurai history, witness some local crafts in action, and feel like you have been transported back in time.
Day 7
A morning train will take you to the city of Sendai, where you will stay for the next few nights. This afternoon, head up to the scenic Matsushima Bay - one of Japan's most famous vistas, and a sure highlight of your trip to Japan. A sightseeing cruise around the bay, which is dotted with pine-covered islets, is the best way to appreciate the scenery.
Day 8
Not far from Sendai is the mountain temple of Yamadera - up a steep set of a thousand stairs, offering unbeatable views at any time of year, this truly is one of Japan's best kept secrets.
Day 9
Take the bullet train south to Omiya and continue to Kanazawa - a Kyoto-esque city with far fewer visitors. World-class art museums, preserved historic neighbourhoods, and more crafts than you can shake a paintbrush at.
Day 10
Meet your private guide this morning and visit two incredible gardens - Kenrokuen, one of Japan's finest landscape gardens, and the more intimate Gyokusenen. Partake in a tea ceremony in a centuries-old building, and learn from the master about the history of this relaxing tradition. Your afternoon can be spent exploring Kanazawa independently.
Day 11
Make a day trip today to Kaga Onsen - hot spring towns that are easy to navigate on your own, and a true off-the-beaten-path gem in Ishikawa prefecture. We would especially recommend a stroll along Kakusenkei Gorge - a scenic walk that remains beautiful in all seasons, but is especially wonderful in the summer months to escape the humidity.
Day 12
Take the train to Kyoto - an unmissable part of the country, and a city we know inside out. As with the rest of this trip, we can advise you on how best to discover Kyoto's secret treasures. This evening, why not visit the famous Fushimi Inari shrine once everyone else has left? Truly magical.
Day 13
Meet your guide and head to the tourist hotspot of Arashiyama... but not to where everyone else is. Wander the backroads, visit quiet temples, learn all about the history of this gorgeous region, and savour in the ability to take photos of bamboo groves and ancient monuments without having to jostle for space. Return to Kyoto this afternoon to explore at your own pace.
Day 14
With one full day left in Kyoto, the time is yours to do with as you please. If you would like to organise more guided tours and activities, just let us know when you book your holiday - we have more ideas than we can possibly fit here!
Day 15
Sadly it is time to set off home. Travel to the airport to fly indirect back to the UK - we are sure you will be back again soon!

Everything we do is tailor-made; our itineraries are just suggestions to give you an idea of what is possible. Please contact us so we can tailor the perfect holiday exclusively for you.

A trip to Japan should always include certain elements – Kyoto and Tokyo are sacrosanct, naturally, and it would be a shame to come here for the first time and skip these out.  The other ‘must-see’ places that appear in most Japan itineraries certainly aren’t for everyone though, and nor should they be.  If you want to see natural beauty and historical towns, travel by bullet train, and learn about the culture, food and people, Japan offers dozens of less-visited stops that are sure to impress.

This particular adventure has been created with this in mind – the highlights, and the hidden gems, side-by-side for an unbeatable journey across Japan’s main island.  See the quieter neighbourhoods of Tokyo, avoid the crowds in the bamboo groves of Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, visit Mt. Fuji away from the bus tours, and take in some of Tohoku’s greatest sights to see the parts of Japan that 99% of tourists skip over.  Why follow the same old trail, when you can take the road less travelled?

1 night flying – 3 nights Tokyo – 2 nights Kakunodate – 2 nights Sendai – 3 nights Kanazawa – 3 nights Kyoto 

Where you'll go

What you'll do

Where you'll stay

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